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  1. #1

    How times have changed!

    On the eve of the IMAX release & the impending DVD, I couldn't help but look back on what changes have occured to the "life" of a film...from becoming a beloved classic to ending up on our shelves at home.....


    I'm going to go out on a limb and show my age here, but....

    I just wanted to comment on how things have changed during the life of this saga....

    Back in '77 when "Star Wars" was new, there weren't anywhere near the number of theatres that there are now (in the US) and there also wasn't the amount of movies released during the full course of a year either. In the town where I lived at the time (Great Falls, MT) SW played from May till the fall (when "Close Encounters" opened to replace it) on the town's biggest screen.
    Then it was back for another 4 months the next year!

    And videos were still a gleam in some market-wiz's eye....

    When "Empire" hit, there were more screens everywhere and the so-called "event movie" mentality had taken hold in Hollywood, but studios still spaced stuff out and didn't crowd the feild with too much, giving films time to get audiences and give them a chance at many repeat viewings.
    But "Empire" still managed to hold on to the biggest screens for that summer and did a respectable business with a reissue the next year....

    By "Jedi", the studios were in full tilt with the "event movies", lining them up all summer long. Video was beginning to really take off (except for a little clunker called "BetaMax") and "Jedi's" business bested "Empire" despite (at that time) much fan disappointment with the way the saga wrapped up (sound familiar?)

    Cut to '99.....event films are a year-round phenom now....video is a home staple...a new format called DVD is taking hold...and if a movie doesn't have a killer opening weekend and show any legs, it's moved out for the "next big thing". "Phantom Menace" holds on to most of it's big houses for just a few months (thanks to alot of fan goodwill & some aggressive contract negotiations from Lucasfilm & the obvious benefit of being the first new SW images we've seen in 15+ years) but still manges to hang on through the end of the year, if only in bargain houses. A limited "charity run" yields a little more business, but the VHS tape of the film is out for fans to enjoy.

    But what fans were really chomping a the bit for was...the new greater quality format for home...the DVD! Over a year after it's intial theatrical run, Lucasfilm obliges (but no classic films yet).

    Now here we are in 2002....and to make time REALLY feel like it's flying, we have the release of Episode II in the theatres in May...most regional theatres, not amused by Lucasfilm's strong-armed tactics they endured during EpOne's run drop the movie after their obligatory 12 week run is over (despite it still doing great matinee & weekend business) and against those odds (& a certain iconic webslinger with a long history to back it up) it still manages to limp to the end of the summer with $300= under it's belt.
    Now, Lucas chooses to play the now standard Hollywood game of...quick theatre run, than 6 months later...home market....including, much to fan's delight, the DVD release. And what do we have to celebrate (not to mention...a not-so-subtle marketing tool) it with but a re-release! But not just ANY re-release....an IMAX event. A bigger picture, bigger sound, cliff-notes cut of the film.....big action on the biggest screen to tout the movie'shome arrival.

    Wow. We've come a long way since '77. I won't be too surprised if by the time Episode III arrives, we'll be able to go in....enjoy the film on the big screen....and walk out into the lobby on the way home and pick up the movie to enjoy again. Sound insane? Okay...maybe by the time of Episode III might be too soon for that, but....mark my words....it'll happen!

    I'd like to read what some other folks think about how things have changed and how they feel about it...including, dare I say, some of you whippersnappers out there! Peck out some of your observations for this ole' Jedi Knight....
    Last edited by jedibear; 11-01-2002 at 12:25 AM.

  2. #2
    actually, what you predicted for ep. III is not even the extreme... look up "tribulation force" on amazon - a series of movies based on a series of books... but the movies are FIRST being released on dvd/video, and THEN released in theaters!!! it's happened and gone past what you predict already! not only that, but the orders on amazon for this movie over took those for SPIDER-MAN!
    Nachos are the right of all sentient beings.

    The guns... They've stopped!
    - Dan Akroyd, Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope

  3. #3
    I think with the explosion of the high end home theater the theater experience might be a thing of the past for most in the next 5-10 years. We'll all have HD TV's with our 5.1 sound system (or what ever the next generation is called) in our houses as the prices continue to fall. The number of home HD TV's will out-pace the addition of Digital Projection in the theaters as the costs will be excessive for probably 90% of the theater owners out there.

    So why go to the theater when you have an outrageously superior image and sound quality at home? Now we only have to wait 6 months to get the film to DVD. In years ahead I'm sure that number will decrease. In the future we might only have to wait 1 month and we're watching it on our home system.

    Won't the film industry lose money if they don't have the big theater earnings? Well, there will always be theaters but we might see some of them shut down as less folks are willing to shell out $50 for their family of 4. Heck that kind of money will buy you the DVD and 2 large pizza's and the picture will be better at home anyway. But as the industry sees their boxoffice profits decrease they will see an increase in DVD sales in addition to the decrease of their production cost.

    The digital medium is a heck of a lot cheaper than the conventional method. You never have to pay for extras, props, weather machines, large studios, live special-effects, etc. Nearly everything can be duplicated/produced digitally and costs nothing more than paying the 5 people who run the computers. High powered computers are getting cheaper and cheaper. Eventually even the smallest studio will have access to the computing power necessary to make the high end digital images we only see in the biggest productions now.

    We've already had a couple of huge hits that cost next to nothing to make and that will become more prevailant in the future. Needing to make $300 million in order to cover the movies cost is stupid. Wild Wild West would have been a hugh pay off for the studio if it had only cost $5 million to make. Studios - Will make movies a lot cheaper - Do limitied runs in the remaining theaters - Quickly follow that release with DVD's. People - Might go to the theater - Purchase the DVD soon after the release and watch it at home.

    What's happened between the first SW release and the last couldn't have been forseen. Who would have thought that we'd have a copy of a SW movie 6 months after its release to watch on our home "Disc" player with our "HD" TV?
    "No one helped me so why should I help you?" - College professor circa 1999

    By choosing not to decide you still have made a choice.

    I'm in love with the women of Univision.

  4. #4
    I recall "A New Hope" opening in July of 1977 here in the Cleveland area. So impressed by the film, I wanted to see it again. Repeat viewings were a rare occurance for those of us around here. Usually a movie was seen once and then we waited to see it on the TV Movie of the Week sometime down the line. Caving in to my pleas, my dad took me to see it again the following spring. The movie had not yet ended its initial run here. The film had played for over an entire year! After enough begging, dad took me to see it a third time at a second run theatre in Chagrin Falls, near where we lived. The following summer (1979), we got to see it as a double feature with the film "Meatballs" at a drive-in. This is two years after the release of the film!!!

    A couple years later, I was able to see "A New Hope" and "The Empire Strikes Back" at the Colony Theatre at Shaker Square... IN GLORIOUS 70mm!!!

    Anyhow... here we are in 2002 with "Attack of the Clones" debuting at IMAX theatres... but in an altered version. Chances are pretty good that this will be one of the last times we will see this film at ANY sort of a theatre until after Episode III has been released.

    It seemed that each of the moives in the OT was released to the theatres during the year prior to the opening of the latest installment. We didn't see that happening with "The Phantom Menace." There was no need to. Everyone who wanted to see it again already owned a copy (or two) to view as often as they liked!

    I miss the old days of the "event films" as Jedibear put it. We waited and waited and each re-release of the film to the theatres seemed so fresh and dazzling. Now we have become spoilt and cynical, in many cases, demanding instant satisfaction and diminishing the impact of the film. I still got excited every time I went to see "Attack of the Clones" at the theatre, but i knew my cravings would be easier to satisfy in a few short months. It was inevitable that the Star Wars franchise would join in with the commonality of every other release that hits the screens.

    I am both saddened and excited about the rush release of films to DVD/VHS. It's just kind of weird... and difficult to get nostalgic over releases that just "whiz" by so quickly.
    OK... I BLOG. YOU READ. at http://jedipartner1967.livejournal.com
    **Steven Sterlekar (1969-2001)**

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